The Direct to Video Connoisseur
I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
Xia dao Gao Fei aka Full Contact (1992)
I was originally going to do this during my series of Hong Kong films last year, but the copy I have didn't play right, so I scrapped it. Mr. Kenner over at Movies in the Attic has this as one of his favorites, and he wasn't going to let me off that easy, so he sent me a copy. Now, with no more excuses, here we go.
Full Contact has Chow Yun-Fat as something of a drifter, living in Thailand, making ends meet off various black market projects. When he and his girl need money fast, he agrees to go in on a big heist set up by his buddy with another group of thugs. It's a set up though, and CYF barely escapes with his life. Now, hellbent on revenge, he needs to find a balance between redemption for his own misdeeds and retribution for the ones committed against him.
This one had it all, everything you'd want from a great Hong Kong actioner: the fights, the shootouts, the explosions, all expertly shot-- a great mix of art and violence. Chow Yun-Fat was sweet, but I think if I had a choice, I'd prefer him in a finely tailored suit over biker gang gear. He's a very mature looking star, and maturity always looks better better dressed. Overall, this was pretty decent.
All this being said though, I had a major qualm with Full Contact: the innocent chick who's badly burned. During the double-cross, the fight between CYF and the gang ends up in an innocent family's house, and everyone is killed except a girl, who is badly burned, and we have to see her throughout the rest of the picture. Why would you do that? It was just weird, and put a weirdness on the film that discolored everything for me. This wasn't like The Killer, where Chow Yun-Fat blinds a woman at the beginning, because in that case it wasn't weird, it made sense with the rest of the film. Here it was gratuitous, and not in a good way.
Chow Yun-Fat is probably best known to American audiences for Crouching Tiger, which was great, but that barely touches the surface of what he brings to the table. For about 15 years, from the mid-80s up to Crouching Tiger, he amassed a dizzying amount of credits-- like somewhere around 40 or 50, I lost count after a while! Imagine someone of his stature in the US working at that pace? Here he's very different from what we're used to in his John Woo roles, playing a more down-and-out guy looking to make ends meet however he can. It was cool seeing him on the motorcycle, trying to channel Marlon Brando in The Wild Ones, but as I said above, I prefer the suit. Still good for a change.
Ringo Lam directed this, which if you're not familiar with him, he's also done three Jean-Claude Van Damme films, Replicant, In Hell, and Maximum Risk. I haven't seen Maximum Risk in a long time, but the other two I didn't really care for. This had a great action quotient, and might have been one I really enjoyed if it hadn't gotten all weird on me. I think that's why you can look at someone like John Woo and see a whole other class of director. Ringo Lam is good, but doesn't quite do it for me.
This film takes place in Thailand, which I think I brought up in Bangkok Dangerous, I like aesthetically for an action film. It takes on something of a modern Wild West feel. What I like about Full Contact though is the theme of Chinese diaspora, that Thailand isn't these characters' true home, though it's the home they're currently stuck with. On top of that, there's the impact of these Chinese immigrants on their adopted home. In that sense, I get Ringo Lam using the badly burned girl as a metaphor for that impact, but it was still a little weird for me.
Netflix doesn't have this for rent on DVD, but they have added it to their Watch Instantly feature. It's the dubbed version, so if you like subtitles, like I do, that might not work. Also, Amazon has it for sale, and you can even buy it new, plus it's available on their On Demand system. For me, it's a little too weird for my tastes, but you might be less put off by that. I'd screen it on Netflix or something before buying, just in case.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0105851/